Vertical and horizontal frames

Vertical and horizontal frames

I have used a wide variety of subjects for this exercise to demonstrate that with a little thought and time you could frame most subjects in vertical and horizontal format. The exercise required forty photographs of twenty subjects shot twice; one vertically framed and one horizontally framed. Each set of two images starts with the horizontal orientation and finishes with the vertical. I tried to show some diversity in subject matter to flexibly illustrate the objective.

Set 1 – Forest

Both images in this set work well with a horizontal and a vertical frame. The horizontal frame puts an emphasis on the depth of the forest while the second on the height of the trees.

Set 2 – Obelisk

The horizontal frame works best in this set; however, the sky has gained some prominence in the vertical frame adding drama and scale to the image.


Set 3 – Door

I can’t decide which image works the best in this set; I’m swinging more towards the horizontal frame because the tree adds a little more interest than the vertical frame. There is more emphasis on the subject in the vertical frame because it is isolated.

Set 4 – Vintage Cameras

The horizontal frame in this image looks a little generic for me but is technically framed better. There is a lot of empty space in the vertically framed image but I can’t decide if this works better or not. I suppose it can depend on what the image is used for.

Set 5 – City Park

The vertical frame in this set works the best because it enhances the lead-in lines and adds foreground interest and a sense of scale to the image.

 Set 6 – Blossom Tree

The isolation of the tree by shooting it in a vertical frame has worked very well; I think that the empty space in the horizontal image is unnecessary and unattractive.

Set 7 – Golf Green

The background on this set is very simple so the subject looks better shot with a vertical frame due to the nature of its shape. The flag is quite small so needs a little weight to stand out.


Set 8 – Cactus and Lentils

I like both of these images for the same reasons as ‘Vintage Cameras’, I think it is the plain white background. Technically the vertical frame is totally unbalanced but for some reason, I think it works well.

Set 9 – Japanese AshI deliberately chose a subject that would be difficult to analyse because of its simplicity. The vertical frame has more depth so in my opinion is the better of the two.

Set 10 – Elegance

Technically, the horizontal version of this set should work better because it complies with the ‘rule-of-thirds’, however, despite the fact that in the vertical frame the subject is placed dead centre, I think it works a lot better and the smoke trails perfectly to the top right corner of the image.

Set 11 – BridgeProminence is added to the bridge in the vertical frame due to the character of its shape, there is too much dead space in the horizontal version.

Set 12 – War Monument

There is a better sense of scale in the horizontal version of this set, though, I think this is down to the focal length and not the framing as much, generally, I think that the horizontal frame works better.

Set 13 – Pond

This one is difficult purely because I think that it is a terrible photograph due to poor subject choice, however, I would probably choose the vertical frame.


Set 14 – Herbs and Flowers growing from Tennis Ball and Seashell

Conversely to the other studio shots, I think that the horizontal frame works better, perhaps because of the details and the colours. I think an interesting subject like this, benefits from a tighter frame.


Set 15 – Wood, Stone and Iron

I think that the vertical frame looks the best in this set because it is virtually split up into three equal parts which, as we know already, makes an interesting photograph. Everything in the horizontal frame seems to be fighting for attention.


Set 16 – Gardens

The vertical representation of this image adds more depth and puts more stress on the flowers which are the focal point of the image while the horizontal version adds a broader sense of scale.

Set 17 – Mixer

The horizontal frame in this simple set looks to have a little too much empty space, although, this does work quite well. After tightening the frame and switching to a vertical orientation we can see that it looks clearer and more balanced.


Set 18 – Iron Wheelbarrow

The horizontal picture in this set looks a little generic, a bit like a snap-shot, whereas changing to vertical orientation has forced me to place something in the foreground to add some interest thus resulting in a better image.


Set 19 – Tower Block

The horizontal version of this tower block puts more focus on the trees, whereas, the vertical version shifts that focus onto the tower block. The building looks further away in the vertical frame because all of the ground is included in the foreground of the shot adding a sense of distance.

Set 20 – ‘Drive Safely’

I think shooting this scene in vertical orientation has elevated the road from the image and has given the photograph more of a sense of direction with good lead-in lines. The horizontal version seems to lay flat in comparison.



This exercise has taught me to exhaust all possible scenarios when framing an image, I feel that if you take a photograph in vertical orientation, even if you think it won’t work, it forces you to be a little more creative by adding foreground interest or incorporating something else into the frame; this has added depth to some of my images that, otherwise, would be flat.


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